For breakfast this morning I found myself still seated at the bar next to my long time foreman and right-hand man, Panto. The handle is short for Pantomime horse, an unfortunate moniker given to him by me due to his long nose, pricked ears, plus a constantly bemused and vacant expression. He has had this unfortunate name since we first met digging holes back in the early 80s, not once has he ever taken offence. In Glasgow, every man has a name, ugly or not, for his closest friends. Panto is a man of few words. He lives voluntarily in the old world where chivalry towards women starts with your ma and shirtless waiters never hold out for tips when they fetch you your hat after a hearty meal in a greasy spoon diner.
Somehow, a mildly spoken man in his sixties might appear incongruous mixing with stronger spoken, younger men of a different generation, but his juxtaposition at my side over the last thirty years or more has taught me that a man of few words can be Kryptonite to those who, to coin a phrase from my youngest son, "chat shite". His loyalty has known no parameters throughout our friendship, life will be slightly uneven without being able to gaze upon his charismatic face.
Panto, never one to show any emotion other than a full fifteen minutes of relief after the great Guinness shortage was rescinded back in 2003, has never questioned my intentions to hand over the business reins during my forthcoming sabbatical, to my sons. Where most men would ask the age old question, 'what's in it for me?' Panto merely nodded his satisfaction after being confirmed that he will have a job in Glasgow for life.
Our last Friday night pint thinned out to just the two of us after the back of 3am, but still unable to express more than a few words on the subject of 'cheerio', he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper and quoted to me the following words by James Orr.
The savage loves his native shore,
Though rude the soil and chill the air;
Well then may Erin's sons adore
Their isle, which nature formed so fair!
What flood reflects a shore so sweet,
As Shannon great, or past'ral Bann?
Or who a friend or foe can meet,
As generous as an Irishman.
A simple, honest and loyal companion, he evoked more from me with these 53 words than most men spit out in a lifetime. It's been a pleasure to have had him about me. This recipe is one that I have prepared for him on and off over the last decade. He would take himself off to a quiet corner and unwrap his wee treat from its greaseproof hiding place and munch them with his big oul green plastic mug of tea. He still firmly believes that it is Siobhan that stands behind the apron, especially as in Panto's world, men will always dig holes while women stay home and cook.
To the Panto's of this world, to my many gracious fellow bloggers across the globe, my loyal pals too numerous to list in Ireland, Germany, Canada, Australia and the grand oul shores of Amerikay. To the wee Glasgow girl fae Hercus Loan who melted my heart and then disappeared up the Thames on her very clever banana boat, the classy, delightful, wonderful Patricia herself, in the west of England who with her enigmatic smile constantly held back my opinion of the auld enemy, the English. The ever loyal little singing fella (who isn't actually little after all) who made me humble with his honesty and down to earth nature that I have treasured over the years and will never forget. A better friend will never be found. To all the genuinely smashing ladies and gents who have been pure dead brilliant, even the religiously misguided fools who have suffered my drunken ramblings, poor punctuation and pish-poor grammar over the years, I say thank you and cheerio for now.
Keep the faith. - JB
2 builders size handfuls of crushed and rolled almonds straight from the tree of Hope.
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup rolled Scottish oats
1 cup brown sugar or substitute
30 ml baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon of natural honey , straight fae the hive if you have the pluck.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 free range eggs, for the love of all things holy do not use the fodder produced by those poor wee wretches they keep in cages. Leave them well alone, as they are destined to end up in a bucket wrapped in the ominous letters of KFC.
300 ml milk, full fat, you only live once, eh?
1 single measure of Whyte & Mackay whisky. You may have to sample a wee swally or two during the preparation of course. Daisyfae will back this theory up by way of a tried and tested method of staying ever intoxicated on life. If you cannae find this brand of whisky then the dessert will be good, but not as good as it should be. Move to Scotland or sweet talk your local whisky supplier. If it should come to light that a Jack Daniels substitute has been used, then the divil himself will surely rise fae hell and punish you for your wickedness.
100 ml good vegetable oil / rapeseed oil.
Blueberries / strawberries / raspberries (for garnish)
Mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs. Add milk, honey, whisky and vanilla extract. Mix into dry ingredients. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 Celsius for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Add fruit of choice, dust with icing sugar and add fresh cream and a raspberry compote. Add a sprig of mint to show off to your monster-in-law. Serve with iced tea, strong coffee or even a tall glass of cider.
Remember to bus your own plates when done, as this kitchen is now closed while I come to terms with a life that has been cruel and heart breakingly grief stricken at times. Humour, strength, good pals and the odd bottle of whisky has seen me through the hard times. I leave the rest to you. This one is on the house.